In Montreuil, the Le Doc festival on stage! heals the open wounds of the war in Ukraine


Two days, eleven meetings, a rush of performances, readings, exhibitions, documentaries, dance shows, circus shows, theater: Russian and Ukrainian artists have so much to show and say that the festival Doc en scene!, which is held in Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis) on March 23 and 24, did not skimp on the invitations.

Launched by the Verba collective, an artistic association created in 2023 by three exiled Russians, Ekaterina Oleinikova (a lawyer who has lived in France since 2011), Maria Tchouprinskaïa, actress, and Alisa Safina, painter (both arrived in spring 2022), Le Doc on stage ! is a reminder for fickle memories. “We wanted to do something in support of Ukraine at a time when the war, which has turned our lives upside down, risks becoming an issue buried among many other current events” : Ekaterina Oleinikova hopes that this attempt will not be not a stone’s throw in the water.

Cobbled together with the means at hand, even if it benefited from the support of the French Institute and logistical assistance from Montreuil, the festival is carried out at arm’s length by volunteers. Their will ? Helping and uniting refugee creators in France who must, adds the lawyer, “start everything from scratch”. A little light on their work, even in the brilliance of a weekend, is a little hope that irrigates the present, restores faith in the future and will, perhaps, succeed in softening the past.

“Looking too much at this past, the fall threatens” : Ihor Tour, a Ukrainian born in 1961, who found asylum in Ardèche, would rather like to project himself towards the future. Author of Tickets are valid , a play staged at the festival on March 23, at 5 p.m., he nevertheless avoids nothing of the horror of which he wishes to tell a rigorous account.

Fiction tinged with the absurd

Administrator of the Mariupol theater, Ihor Tour lived, from February 24 to March 18, 2022, under the Russian strikes which fell on his hometown: “I retreated to the theater with my family from February 26. As a reserve officer, I joined a veterans unit of the Ministry of the Interior. During the day, I patrolled the streets only to find my wife, a doctor, around 2 a.m. There were sometimes between 1,500 and 2,000 refugees in the building. We had to organize ourselves to regulate this collective life and prevent the situation from turning into chaos. On March 16, I was sent to the theater by my colonel to carry out my service there. When I arrived, a bomb had just exploded: 200 or 300 people died. My wife, who I thought was dead, had survived. She was holding a young boy by the shoulders whose mother had not been so lucky. We adopted it. » The young boy’s name is Alexandre. Now aged 14, he refuses, like his adoptive father, to express himself in Russian, except in family privacy.

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